London: A Relationship Engine

Last week we convened our second webinar on what the future of work will look like for young people and businesses in Westminster with another insightful discussion.

We heard from Rob Whitehead from the Centre for London with findings from their report London at a Crossroads and work towards finding a shared vision for the city.  Rob described London as a relationship engine, a phrase which chimes with the work of YWF and our partners. Our interconnectedness is our strength.

The research found that the most important priorities for Londoners are around personal physical and mental safety. These findings are in line with YWF’s research Our City, Our Future.

Rob spoke about transitional opportunities for example around food and bioscience. There is also some unpacking needed around London’s functions and redesigning society so the wider country can prosper.

Azzees Minott from 2-3 Degrees provided an update of the Mastering My Future Programme which includes a fun packed August of workshops for young people. We are actively seeking more volunteers to mentor people on the programme.

Azzees led a panel of discussion from local experts.

Jenny Harris from the Economic Development and Regeneration Team at Westminster City Council provided an overview of the Harrow Road Regen Scheme in North Westminster.

Jenny spoke about the opportunities around green jobs and the potential to use the regeneration scheme as a live learning lab. One challenge is the curriculum keeping up with industry. This links to the GLA’s 10 year economic growth plan.

Jenny spoke about the importance of partners to be connectors. We need to take the next generation with us. We’re the first project managers dealing with new sectors and we need to have a legacy built in.

There is interest around modelling Harrow Road as a cultural offer with opportunities to activate vacant space.

We also heard about the potential for more pop-up business opportunities for young entrepreneurs and talent in the West End from Alice Murphy from the New West End Company. Alice and her team are concentrating on making the West End diverse and sustainable, rebuilding customer demand and recapitalisation back to pre-pandemic levels.

There is a notable trend in diversification of hospitality and retail and it’s important that young people have the opportunity to engage and contribute to these changes. Retail has undergone a seismic shift and is more experientially focused. 20-30% of ground floors in the area will change and there is hope for a culture-led recovery with a rise in high-spec offices in the West End and a growth of technology.

Lynne Peabody from EY Foundation spoke about their national programmes with young people at risk of being NEET and focussed on inequality in access and employment outcomes. Some young people from low-income backgrounds do not have equal access to the same roles as other young people even if they have the same qualifications.

Lynne called out to businesses to support young people. To businesses, this isn’t about philanthropy or CSR, they need to help the next generation because it makes good business sense. What’s happening nationally are shifts that are happening in Westminster as well – towards security, cybersecurity, technology. Another growth area is around artificial intelligence. She signposted attendees to read EY’s report Breaking down workplace barriers for young Black people.

Azzees added insight into discussing the earning potential for young people and the importance of helping them come up with a plan and their ability to move between different roles and industries.

The consensus of the panel was there are challenges as we transition through the pandemic for the economy and young people but also opportunities within it. There is a need for partners to collaborate and provide a conduit for young people to be part of the recovery.  The panel concluded with encouraging young people to be optimistic about the future.

Click here to watch the full recording from July’s Business Webinar.


YWF is calling for partners to come together and engage in a conversation. If you want to join us then get in touch!

Find out more about how you can partner with us here.

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